Take a Walk on the Mild Side
I have piercings, plural. And ink, stained skin. And I would do them all and more again. But acts of rebellion they were not. People often make assumptions about such things, but my little self-expressions would hardly raise an eyebrow. Even that 1st double piercing when I was 13 only got me a frowning. (Strangely, the original piercings, 1 per ear when I was 8, done by a family friend who was a nurse, were perfectly acceptable. I didn’t really understand how one more could be so shameful.) But I wasn’t grounded. I’m afraid the older friend I was with may have gotten an earful through the parental grapevine. But it was the connection with that girl which I cherished as much as the earring. We split the pair. She was older and cooler and beautiful. I wanted to be like her. The night we went out together and got our ears pierced went into the scrapbook of my mind. That piercing always reminds me of her. It broke my heart a little when, after our lives had taken us down different roads, we met up again and she had let her hole grow closed. I still have mine. It’s also pasted on that scrapbook page with some words about friendship, independence, and remembering.
The next piercing was farther up the same ear. I was 19, a freshman at university, and looking to bond with my room mates. The three of us went together to the little shop in the mall, the one with the earring gun that made a noise more horrifying than the piercing itself. We did it all together, so I don’t remember who got the pair and who split a pair with me. I loved those girls, but we also went our own ways in the growing up that must be done. I’ve always worn a post in that hole, through all the years of losing touch completely. (Through the magic of FaceBook, we are all reconnected) It, too, has a page in that scrapbook, one that speaks of horizons, unlimited possibilities, and the potential of youth and friendship.
10 more years down the line and I was feeling lost, not just having lost my way ~which, boy howdy, I had done~ but having lost myself. I didn’t even know where to look for that girl who saw bright and exciting things in her future. What anchor I had to the individual I had been lived 3 hours up the turnpike. We spent many weekends together trying to recapture what we’d given away, lost in the shuffle, or never thought we’d want again. She helped me remember who I had been and to decide who I could be. She held my hand, chanting our mantra Calm Blue Ocean, while a man needled a poison dart frog onto my foot. She has her own ink from that time in our lives, done by the same artist. With a symbol for myself that I cannot lose or forget, a tiny creature full of power when necessary but susceptible to its environment, I found my way forward into a future full of bright and exciting things.
Leane, Amy, Jennifer, and Laura ~ thank you for your friendship, for marking those milestones with me. I remember who we were then and appreciate how far each of us has come since we did those things together.
Far from rebellion and isolation, each of these modifications speaks of connection with others, recognition of self, the desire to remain grounded in what truly matters.